I hear my name echo the small waiting room. My stomach dropped to my feet as I grabbed my one-year-old son’s plump, dimply hand. “You ready?”, I smile down at him. It has only been two weeks I tell myself as we head back to the room where my blood will be drawn. I still remember the way my son held tightly on to my finger looking up at me. He knew his mom’s heart was heavy because of his little empathetic soul but he wasn’t sure why.
This was my third time in the office this week. All of the nurses and staff smiled at me warmly but by the third visit, I knew they knew. Since I was still healing from an early pregnancy loss just months before my doctor had been making a diligent effort in making sure my pregnancy hormone numbers were rising. They weren’t. With each blood draw my numbers were decreasing. I was holding on to the hope that I was going to carry this life until term and my body was slowly but surely telling me it wasn’t.
By the time I had entered the room where my final blood draw would be taken I had a lump in my throat.
My nurse saw that hurt in my eyes and reached out and hugged me. As odd as it sounds embracing in a hug with a woman I had met less than a handful of times was one of the most healing things about my second miscarriage. She didn’t just see numbers. She could have chosen then to tell me how common early miscarriages are or that I wasn’t alone. My nurse could have used that time to say everything was going to be ok either way. But she didn’t. She saw the need in my eyes for just a gentle reminder that no matter how early in my pregnancy I was it was ok to be upset. It was okay to be grieving. She gave me permission to cry in that room as the needle broke my skin and silent tears rolled down my cheek not as a result of physical pain but a hurt that was sitting heavy on my soul. She encouraged the tears and didn’t try to brush them away because they made her uncomfortable. I will never forget that act of kindness.
There have been many nurses that have touched my life. Some that I have been able to say thank you to, some I have not. When I think of a nurse that I don’t think I expressed my gratitude to in the magnitude it was deserved I think of that December day and the nurse with the kind eyes and gentle spirit. She never once saw me as just another patient to hurry through her door or irrational for being upset about losing a pregnancy I had just entered in to. She saw me as a human. She saw a need and met it. For that, I am eternally grateful.
We said our goodbyes at the check-out both knowing I would not be in again soon. “Wait, wait,” she said as she rustled through a box. She handed my son a stuffed animal dog wrapped with a winter scarf around his neck ironically named, “Chance.” I smiled and we embraced again.
It would take another week for me to show the physical signs of losing my pregnancy. I remember the coolness of the bathroom tile under my feet and the devastation in my heart but more than that I remember the words that nurse said to me. “You go ahead and cry, sweetheart. Let it out.” So I did.
There is a laundry list of things I could thank nurses for: wanting to express my gratitude and appreciation I think of the long and demanding shifts they endure, their achy back and feet, the missed lunches, the daily sacrifices they make, holidays and big life events they have to work, the millions of questions they field, their quick thinking and lives they have saved. When I think of the number one reason why I want to thank a nurse this week, the first thing that comes to mind is the compassion and empathy I felt the day of the final blood draw.
For the nurse, I never got to thank properly for reminding me I was human and treating me that way. Thank you.